Kanaa music director Dhibu Ninan Thomas feels drowning out lyrics with music is distasteful
He says it feels like a dream that three college friends--himself, Sivakarthikeyan and Arunraja Kamaraj--without any backing or knowledge about cinema have become known names in the industry
Aaradhana, the four-year-old daughter of Sivakarthikeyan, is the talk of the town, with her song Vaayadi Petha Pulla from Kanaa getting as many as 15 million views on YouTube. The music of Kanaa, the maiden production venture of Sivakarthikeyan, is by Dhibu Ninan Thomas and Arunraja Kamaraj, the actor’s friends from college. While the latter is well-known as a lyricist and singer, the former is the man behind the melody, Nee Kavidhaigala, in 2017’s fantasy comedy, Maragatha Nanayam.
On Vaayadi Petha Pulla going viral, Dhibu says, “It was Arun who suggested that we have Aaradhana sing. Siva was initially skeptical about the idea as he felt she was too young. I sent the soundtrack to Siva two weeks ahead of the recording, so she could be trained. She surprised us on the day of recording by completing her portions in an hour.”
It may be a sports film, but the film has a romantic number called Othaiyadi Pathaiyile sung by Anirudh. Dhibu rejects that the song was added for commercial reasons. “Forced songs come in the way of the narrative. Othaiyadi… is an essential part of this film, and is well integrated into the story.” Anirudh himself volunteered to sing the track, he reveals. “When Siva shared that he was producing a film, Anirudh readily wanted to be a part of it. I wanted him to sing this love number, because I believe he has an amazing and soulful voice.”
Dhibu is keen that music should not overpower the lyrics. “Lyrics have the power to convey emotions in a way music quite can’t. Sound should never overpower the beauty of lyrics. This is why I make sure that the lyrics in my songs are always audible and clear. I think it’s distasteful to compose songs whose lyrics you cannot hear.”
Kanaa, he says, is a film for all people. “Arun has come up with incidents that we can all relate to. The film is not confined to a particular section of people.”
Dhibu says it feels like a dream when he realises that three college friends without any backing or knowledge about cinema have become known names in the industry. “We all had humble beginnings. While Siva was doing mimes, Arun was writing poems and I was performing in light music competitions. We were famous only inside our college. We had the dream of making it in cinema, but didn’t have a clear roadmap. We’ve even made mock posters with our names credited as actor, composer and director.” He attributes their success to a dogged desire for success. “Aasa pattaa pathaadhu, adam pidikkanum,” Dhibu says. “We were constantly fighting for a breakthrough and one fine day, everything changed.”
Dhibu realises there’s a lot of expectation surrounding Kanaa. “We are doing our best to deliver a successful film that will be loved by all. If we fail, all the hype would just be a waste of time. I am composing the background score for the film and am really happy with how the film has shaped up. Sathyaraj sir’s character is among his best, and Aishwarya Rajesh too has worked really hard to get into the skin of the character.”
The composer doesn’t intend to go on a signing spree. “I want to take up scripts that excite me and connect with my life.”
Here is the extended video version of the interview..